The Yellow Admiral (Jack Aubrey)

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9780736660563: The Yellow Admiral (Jack Aubrey)
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Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin tales are widely acknowledged to be the greatest series of historical novels ever written. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of their beginning, with Master and Commander, these evocative stories are being re-issued in paperback with smart new livery. This is the eighteenth book in the series.The Yellow Admiral - the eighteenth novel in the sequence hailed as the greatest series of historical novels ever written - sets the fall and rise of Jack Aubrey in brilliant counterpoint to the fall and rise of Napoleon Bonaparte.Life ashore may once again be the undoing of Jack Aubrey. Even Jack's exploits at sea turn sour in the storm waters off Brest. Worst of all, in the spring of 1814 peace breaks out. But Stephen Maturin returns from a mission in France with news that the Chileans require the service of English officers. Jack is savouring this reprieve for his career when he receives an urgent despatch ordering him to Gibraltar: Napoleon has escaped from Elba.

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Review:

At last! Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are back as Patrick O'Brian provides his indomitably loyal fans with another adventure, this one by land as well as by sea. Lucky Jack Aubrey finds himself not so lucky as his troubles amount ashore, his prospects of admiralty dimmed and Sophie's affection waning. At sea, he fares little better: in the storms off Brest he captures a French privateer ladden with gold and ivory at the expense of missing a signal and deserting his post. And worst of all, in the spring of 1814, peace breaks out...

Fortunately, Maturin returns from a mission in Chile with news that may help restore Aubrey to good favor with both his beloved navy and wife. Then, off to Gibraltar: Napoleon has escaped from Elba.

The Yellow Admiral is a change of pace, a reversion to the themes of the earlier novels in the Aubrey/Maturin series. Much of the story takes place on land, giving scope to O'Brian's fascination with the landscape, physical and social, of early nineteenth-century England. In vivid glimpses of various rural pursuits, and nuanced observation of politics and domestic arrangements, O'Brian proves himself ever more surely to be the heir of Jane Austen. Not to say there aren't some rousing and bloody sea-battles!

From the Back Cover:

Life ashore may once again be the undoing of Jack Aubrey in Patrick O'Brian's long-awaited sequel to his bestseller The Commodore. Aubrey, now a considerable though impoverished landowner, has dimmed his prospects at the admiralty by his erratic voting as a member of Parliament; he is feuding with his neighbor, a man with strong navy connections who wants to enclose the common land between their estates; he is on even worse terms with his wife, Sophie, whose mother has ferreted out a most damaging trove of old personal letters. Even Jack's exploits at sea turn sour: In the storm waters off Brest he captures a French privateer laden with gold and ivory, but this at the expense of missing a signal and deserting his post. Worst of all, in the spring of 1814, peace breaks out, and this feeds into Jack's private fear about his career: the prospect of being "yellowed", or nominally promoted to the rank of admiral without any squadron to command. Fortunately, Jack is not left to his own devices. Stephen Maturin returns from a mission in France with the news that the Chileans, to secure their independence, require a navy, and the service of English officers. Jack is savoring this apparent reprieve for his career, as well as Sophie's forgiveness, when he receives an urgent dispatch ordering him to Gibraltar: Napoleon has escaped from Elba.

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